Excerpt Tuesday – Indian Boarding School: The Runaways – Erdrich

IndianBoardingSchool_2
The only time I look at the stats page on my WordPress dashboard is when I accidentally click on it when trying to do something else! So this was how I learned that I had just put up my 400th post a couple of days ago. It is just shy of 2 years ago that I started this blog – and I can safely say I had no idea what I was getting into when I started – so it is amazing to me to see that number! But most of all thank you for joining me on this journey. Who knows where the next 400 posts will take us?

That peek at the stats did lead me to poke around and determine which Tuesday posts had thus far “won,” so to speak (feel free to click on either one to pay it a visit) –
My collage for Robert Okaji’s poem At Sunrise We Celebrate the Night’s Passage had the most “likes” (92)

– and –

Geo Kalpataru’s colorful drawing for A.E. Housman’s When I Was One-and-Twenty had the (well deserved) highest number of views (177)

For today’s post, I decided to revisit an excerpt that didn’t light up the stats page, but is still one of my favorites. Louise Erdrich is the author of multiple books, stories, and poems and a small independent bookstore owner (if you are in the Minneapolis area, you can pay Birchbark Books a visit!). Her poem Indian Boarding School: The Runaways was my first introduction to her work and it has left a lasting impression. You can read the whole poem here. Postage stamp collage, imbued with all of the metaphor and meaning that postage can carry, and composition by me.

26 comments

  1. Such a rich habitat for ideas — language, images, history and science — you’ve built here over 400 posts! Looking forward to all the inspiration to come…

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    1. Thank you, Sunshine! I love that image of an “idea habitat” – I need to come up with a drawing that will do that phrase justice! 😉
      I have been thinking quite a bit about your post on handwriting, and how it is a form of meditation. I found that really inspiring. I’m hoping you will do an update post on your practice sometime and let us know how it is coming along.

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      1. I would be too thrilled to inspire one of your drawings, Marcy; if anyone could illuminate that concept, it’s you! And meditation-through-penmanship been a fascinating and sort of surprising experiment; I’ll do a followup post for sure…

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      2. I’m interested to see how you will feel about handwriting as meditation. I don’t know if you’re going to handwrite a particular published poem or prayer or journal (like Julia Cameron’s “morning pages.”) I think (using my wobbly waaay back memory machine) that some Buddhists write a particular Sutra as a meditation – there have been 2 hour workshops on doing it. Some religions do not allow depictions of their deity(ies)/equivalents of saints/icons, etc. and can only use handwriting. I will never use journaling as a form of therapy which people that know me, know I write-write as I call it, as well as journal find puzzling until I point out to them that for me revisiting certain events via handwriting/typing does not get them “out”/”processed” but reinforces the memory/feeling/strengthens the neural pathways. So, as you can see, I’m very interested to see what you will do & the results. If you have your own blog abd you discuss what you’re doing in more detail there, please point me to there & I’ll sign up!

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      3. Actually, that last point strikes a particular chord with me and it will definitely feature in my follow-up post — you can find me at fairyofdisenchantment.wordpress.com and the original Marcy mentions was 3 posts back. Can’t say exactly when that followup post will show up (it takes me quite a long time to get the words out of my head these days) but I appreciate your interest!

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      4. I definitely recommend Sunshine’s blog – her posts are always enjoyable and interesting. I agree it is an interesting point – journaling is the proverbial double edged sword. For some it “gets it out,” for others it is making permanent something they would rather forget or move on from. Who hasn’t stumbled across something they wrote a long time ago and thought, cringing, “What was I thinking?!?” I like the idea of handwriting as meditation when the handwriting is almost disengaged from the meaning of the words – like copying a poem or prayer – then it can transform into art as well.

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  2. Congrats on 400! I discovered Erdich thru a library sale copy of Beet Queen. I ended up actually sketching out a family tree a book or two after that because I couldn’t always remember who was related to whom and sometimes it was important to know. I’m not sure exactly how I came to this site except I think it was a link posted in someone’s blog or group. I like to think the Universe knew I needed to be “here” at this point in my life and sometimes whe he/she/it does things like that, it’s best to just say thank you and enjoy the gift. Thank you for letting us get to know you through your art work and photography and being reminded of poems/poets and intoducing me to new ones.

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    1. Thank you so much! It means a lot to me to read your comment. It always amazes me how folks find their way here, especially when we are constantly hearing about the deluge of content – posts, tweets, articles, photos – on the internet. But I agree there is the hand of fate in what we stumble across sometimes. I know I’ve found my way exactly to the blogs and sites I needed at that time and then I can never replicate that search or series of clicks again! Thank you for joining me on this poetry/art journey – it is truly a pleasure to travel with you.

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  3. Wow — now that’s an accomplishment! 🙂 So glad I found you through AnnMarie. LOVE this postage stamp collage….rather than wondering where they’ve all been, I wonder who licked them? And what was in their minds when they did?

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    1. Thank you kindly! Me too – I am grateful that AnnMarie introduced us. Your comments are a pleasure and always add to the post, so thank you for them and your support and encouragement! I sometimes wonder if the choice of stamp says anything about the person who sent them? Nowadays you can choose from a dozen different designs at the post office, but even if the choices in the past weren’t so numerous, some of these are really interesting – like the one for the Anniversary of Mail Order or the Rural America stamp.

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  4. Congrats on #400! Why am I reminded of Buzz Lightyear’s “To infinity, and beyond!”?

    The boarding school poem chills me. My son just completed a project that included reading Code Talkers and a description (I think it was from Howard Zinn) of the indian boarding schools where children were forbidden to speak anything but English, to shed their culture in favor of the white man’s. So I love how Code Talkers brings out that irony, how a group of Native Americans could rise above this devastation (serving a country that did so much to exterminate their lives, culture, and language) and help the Allies in WWII. My son says that the movie is extremely disappointing because it doesn’t focus on the code talkers at all, but on a white man. Unbelievable.

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    1. Thank you, Jilanne! Toy Story is my nephew’s most favorite movie in the whole world right now, so I am well practiced with that phrase! 🙂

      That is too bad about the Code Talkers movie – do you mean the one with Nicholas Cage? Did your son enjoy the book, was it better? I’m glad at least that they are teaching about the Code Talkers in CA schools, we didn’t cover anything like that back in the olden days (I feel like our history classes spent A LOT of time on the California/Spanish Missions!). I always associate this poem with the movie “Rabbit Proof Fence” – which is excellent and I highly recommend – which tells the true story of three runaway Aboriginal girls from their boarding school in Australia. Similar policy of forced assimilation of native children, same devastating results.

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  5. I will be two soon as well (end of March). And you made me check how many posts I’ve had so far, and it’s 650+. Numbers I leave to those to thrive on them; myself and you too, I’m sure – we are word people. Here’s to more of them to come.

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    1. That’s awesome! 650 posts – congrats! I’m not terribly worried about the numbers – I would think that would be a stressful way to run a blog. It is fun to check on them from time to time, but I agree, let’s focus on the words and friendships! Thank you for your support and encouragement!

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    1. Thank you, Jill! What I love about these stamps is that they are all canceled, so they have definitely taken a journey and must have a story to tell! My mother collected them years and years ago, but I know no more than that. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and support!

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    1. I was watching this video and thinking that I recognized the place…and sure enough. I have driven through here on my way to the Mojave desert…it seems to me that Mr. Goff captured it well!

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